Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping review – spot-on pop parody

The Lonely Island crew send up the Biebers and 1Ds of this world with a sharp spoof popumentary

With this likable comedy, Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer, AKA Saturday Night Live’s the Lonely Island, parody the stage-managed promotional popumentaries favoured by the likes of One Direction and Justin Bieber. And the result is as close as we are going to get to a This Is Spinal Tap for the YouTube generation. While it’s not as deliriously funny as Tap, and the story arc is rather more conventional, the music, composed by the Lonely Island trio, is spot on.

Samberg stars as Conner4Real, a preening pop phenomenon who grew bigger than the boyband that spawned him. Of his former group, the Style Boyz, Owen, aka Kid Contact (Taccone), has been relegated to DJing for Conner while wearing an illuminated robot head, and Lawrence, aka Kid Brain (Schaffer), has retired to a farm, the better to nurse his grudge against his former best friend Conner. The film follows the launch of Conner4Real’s second solo album, and captures the moment when hubris and lack of talent collide in a colossal pile-up of bad decisions and worse reviews.

You probably need to spend more time than I do on sites such as TMZ to get all the jokes, but the film nails the oversharing banality of YouTube celebrity. Conner exposes everything to his fans – up to and including his latest intimate waxing session – so when they turn against him, it feels like a rejection of not just his music but his entire being. He doesn’t take it well.

Judd Apatow produces, and this is reflected in the quality of the supporting actors – Sarah Silverman is deliciously acidic as Conner’s publicist – and the numerous celebrity cameos. Some of the latter feel a little pointless, though Mariah Carey and Seal gamely allow themselves to be the punchline of a couple of the film’s better jokes.

Watch the trailer for Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping.


Wendy Ide

The GuardianTramp

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